Digital photo frames are for amateurs, but what if you walked in to someone's house to see a digital photo wall? Israeli company Magink has partnered with Japanese construction company Shimizu to manufacture digital tiles that can be placed over a wall like you would with wallpaper. "Our partner had a vision of creating what they call, 'a digital surfacing material' for the construction industry," Magink's CEO Ronen Zexer tells Unplggd. "This will allow you to change the type of environment in your home digitally. Whatever textures and colors you want to have, you can change digitally within seconds."
Shimizu chose to work with Magink on this idea due mainly to the fact that Magink had figured out how to display images without using much power. Unlike an LCD, which requires backlighting, the 2.8-inch thick tiles, called SmartBricks, display any digital image using only ambient light. Imagine your foyer changing daily to show off images of your children or tapping in to RSS feeds to display your favorite websites.
Similar to e-Ink found in Amazon's Kindle, Magink's reflective tiles use ambient light, rather than electricity to display images. Power is only used to change the image on display. While e-ink can only display in black and white, SmartBricks are composed of red, green, and blue layers, allowing them to display color images that are both detailed and clear.
Magink already sells a similar tile to billboard companies and sports arenas (they built three-story tall billboards for the Patriots Hall of Fame in Boston). The reflective tile technology is based on Cholesteric Liquid Crystal tech, which is 50-75 percent more energy efficient than LED billboards, creates no light pollution, and can be changed with the click of a button.
Their digital tiles, which they hope to make available in six months within the Japanese construction market, measure 6.7-by-6.7 inches and display 18-by-18 pixels. The bricks come in 3-by-3 stacks that can cover 20-square-inches. They'll only be able to display still images, as video consumes more power, but images can be changed at a click of a button either using a wireless or tethered network. "Today, when you renovate your kitchen or bathroom, you make a decision and this is what you see for the next 10 years," Ronen explains. "Here the technology allows flexibility and creativity that we can only begin to imagine what people will think of. It's limitless."